Recap of the ITASA NorCal mixer at Stanford
Photo Courtesy of Lincy Han
There are a lot of perks to being an ITASA West Coast District Chair. Besides the prestigious title, I get to work with some of the most dedicated people in the Taiwanese American community to plan social events designed to bring the several collegiate TASAs in the Northern California closer as well as to form a community. There are three West Coast District Chairs for Northern California; Jackie Hwang of UC Berkeley, Pearle Lun of Stanford, and me for UC Davis. For those who’ve never been to California or even know much of California’s geography, know this-the golden state is huge. UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Stanford are all spread out from each other which make personal networking kind of hard. But this is the part where the brilliant idea of mixers comes in. Jackie, Pearle, and I brainstormed together about effective ways in which our individual TASAs could mingle with each other and concluded that one mixer per quarter in each of the school seemed like a great idea to bring everybody together. There would be one Saturday per quarter during which students not only get to spend an entire day running around a new school campus in teams in a bid to win a photo scavenger hunt. Not only that, but we threw in a couple of large group ice-breakers to get everybody acquainted with each other and basically, our main message for all the events was to have fun.
Our last mixer of the 2011-2012 school year took place at Stanford University on April 7th, the same day the ITASA Midwest conference and New York ECC Spring Mixer was taking place. Imagine that-three different ITASA events taking place across the United States all within the same time frame! Pearle and Jackie could not contain their glee and both would often comment “This is so exciting” every so often. It really was exhilarating that day. As with the previous two mixers (the first one at UC Berkeley, and the second one at UC Davis), we started at 1 P.M. It took a bit of time before all three schools congregated at the designated meeting place since between Davis and Berkeley, there was an average of about an hour and half of driving time involved. The weather was picture perfect that day, all sunlight and soft breeze. We had a turnout of about thirty five or so people, which is a pretty good amount. During quick introductions, we discovered that amongst our Stanford peers were a former World Pokemon Champion and the only Asian that one will ever meet from Tennessee. There was a very complicated game of Taiwanese Jeopardy. It was really hard; over half of everybody in attendance was surprised by the lack of knowledge they contained about Taiwan. For example, did you know that the Tropic of Cancer runs through Taiwan and that Jay Chou’s newest album is titled “Exclamation Mark”? If you did, congratulations - because I was desperately trying not to google all the questions displayed on my iTouch.
The scavenger hunt involved us being separated into three groups and then sending us on a wild search throughout the Stanford campus. The scavenger hunt is really a mix of “An Amazing Race” mixed with a bit of sightseeing– in that the non-Stanford students got the chance to explore a different campus rather than the one they’re used to seeing. My group and I chanced upon a webcam in one of the engineering buildings which linked M.I.T. directly to Stanford. Since our time zones are different, all we got to see was the cleaning lady all the way on the other side of the country since it was already night time. We tried waving to her but sadly, she did not wave back. Then, we trekked to the “Gates of Hell” where we took many pictures and ran into multi-colored students who had just finished the “Color Run”. All in all, it was an extremely eventful day especially since my group ended up winning the scavenger hunt.
After an enormously eventful and tiring day of journeying around Stanford’s mammoth grounds, everybody went to dinner at a restaurant 15 minutes away from campus. During our deliciously oily dinner (Mongolian Stir Fry), everybody mingled with each other and got to know each other much better. Later on, we all flocked over to the Boba shop named Tea Era across the street because really, the best way to end the day is with a cup of mouth-satisfying boba. I got the Japanese Green Milk Tea after asking for some recommendations from a Stanford student who blushed when she confessed she had tried everything on the menu at least twice. I have to admit, it was a great recommendation since the milk tea was delicious. All of us spent the next few hours just sitting around outside and hanging out before finally realizing that it’s best not to drive back in the middle of the night. We wished each other a good night as well as assurances of friending each other on Facebook.
I had a twinge of nostalgia that night as the mixer concluded. The feeling I had I can only equate to that moment when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake. Yes, it’s tremendous turning a year older because now there are more opportunities available to make all the wildest dreams come true. But yet, the wistfulness of everything you’ve accomplished envelops you. So, I bid not a good night to these one of a kind mixers but rather a sincere see-you-again, for next year there will once again be the gathering of our respective TASAs with new members all prepared to craft unique memories that will forever be immortalized in our hearts and of course, facebook albums.
Written by Michelle Ruan - West Coast District Chair (UC Davis)